Ballet Exercises - Quad Muscles

by Amaya
(Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

Ballet Exercises - Quad Muscles

For two years i took a ballet class for one day a week. And my teacher told me i had extreme potential to be a professional ballet dancer. so she told me to sign up for the alabama ballet school which i did. In january she let me en pointe but the pointe classes weren't that good so i had to practice and learn by myself at home. everything went well except for developpes and grand battements. I used my quads instead of my inner thigh muscles. now im trying to figure out how do i not use my quads and just my inner thigh muscles for the developpes. I'm trying to fix this problem before my placement class with the ballet school in late august. Can you help me with that and how to get your leg alot higher in developpes. Thanks in advance!(:
btw i just turned twelve


Ballet Exercises - Quad Muscles

Reply by Odette

Hello Amaya,

Thank you for contacting me, it is a pleasure to hear from you.

Always remember, your developpes and grand battements both initiate from the backs on the legs (glutes). So during all your ballet classes, try to feel each movement initiating from the glutes as this will help to stop using your quads.

Also, try to think about length throughout your whole leg in every developpe and grand battement. In a developpe, imagine your leg is reaching on forever and ever - it is long, lengthened and light. With just this imagery in your head, it can help you start to use the right muscles and prevent using your quads. Make sure your muscles are fully stretch and as long as you can make them.

There are some great exercises in pilates that target the leg muscles and inside thighs, so have a look at some books or dvds on pilates. Pilates or yoga are very popular exercises for dancers to do aside of their ballet classes. Pilates is great for core strengthening and toning the muscles. Many dancers like to have a pilates session before ballet class because it engages your core stability.

My first tip to getting a higher developpe is make sure during all your ballet classes you really push your legs higher than usually would in all the exercises. A teacher once told me, "You will never get your legs higher if you're always comfortable with the height they are at. You have to push past your comfort zone in order to get higher legs."

Secondly, make sure you stretch during or after class to increase flexibility. Take advantage of when your body is warm to do deeper stretches such as, holding your leg up high to the side with your hand and keeping it there continually increasing the height.

The secret to success is mental discipline as well as physical ability. I can give you the information that you need to progress to the next level. Along with the three physical secrets, the Seven Secrets, on the 'Seven Secrets of Ballet' page, will give you the key answers of how to thrive in the ballet world.

Best Wishes,


ps. To become the best dancer you can be, learn the Seven Secrets ..... go to my 'Seven Secrets of Ballet' page

Comments for Ballet Exercises - Quad Muscles

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by: Kate

I always found the instruction "lift with the back of your legs rather than your quads" rather confusing but I think that maybe it is rather imagery to help you lift in a turned out position, which in turn decreases the amount of work your quads need to do to keep your leg straight. It is explained here:

Reply to Kate: Quads
by: Odette

Hi Kate,

Thank you for your message, it's great to hear your opinion and thoughts. Yes, I understand your confusion and you're correct in thinking that instruction is imagery as well as technique for ballet. You do have to make sure the quads are pulled up and not 'saggy', but the emphasis from every movement should initiate from the backs of the legs. This correct way of working will lengthen the quads and not make the muscles 'bunch' up. You need quad strength to jump, as well as hamstring and glute muscles. You should feel like your inner thighs are spiralling around towards the front, which works together with the backs of the legs to turn out with the quads pulled up and lengthened with the whole body.
I hope this clears your confusion a little more. Mainly, the feeling is always length in your body like a piece of string is pulling you upwards.

Best wishes,

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